God, Gather, Garden
The First Gardener Program
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8
At Procter Center Farm, the Sawyer Garden and Sawyer Greenhouse are learning labs for campers and guests. The 15 rows of vegetables, flowers, and gourds, plus the plot of sweet corn, will be a place for tasting, exploring, harvesting, and enjoying creation!
Contact us to set up a session on the farm! Give your youth/retreat/meeting/family group a unique experience by spending time touring, or even working, on the farm. Our Director of Farm Development will work with you to develop programing that fits your group theme, experience levels, abilities, and more! Call 740-490-6025 today.
Each summer, we connect our campers more to nature through their experiences at the farm. Each camp includes a Farm Camp session, where we allow the campers to interact with farm animals, harvest from our gardens, taste different vegetables, and learn more about be stewards of the land.
The Farm to Forest Retreat is a two-day event that brings people together during the Season of Creation to discuss and learn more about gardens and woodlands. Not only are there teaching moments about the technical implementation of things like composting and gardening, but also contemplation about the church’s involvement in combating climate change, increasing peoples’ connection to nature, and igniting the eco-spirit!
This year, Speakers will join us from Washington, Kentucky, and all over Ohio to share their experiences and knowledge with the Dioceses of Southern Ohio and the local communities. Learn more and see the full itinerary at www.proctercenter.org/farmtoforestweekend. We hope you will join us!
Want to spend a day, few days, or a whole season with us on the farm? We can work with you to set up a schedule that works well, to ensure you are getting the most out of your farm experience. See just a few examples below:
1. Tour the woodlands and vernal pools
2. Work side-by-side with our farm-hands
3. Assist with harvest or farmers market days (prereq., at least 8 hours at farm required)
4. Tour Lake Leo and the apiary
Need lodging during your stay? Please see our retreat pages for details, or complete the contact sheet for booking.
First Gardener Program’s Mission
The First Gardener Program’s mission is to increase peoples’ abilities to connect more to nature. Procter Center Farm carries on the mission of Good News Gardens, a network of Episcopalians who commit to planting more, praying more, and proclaiming more. The partnerships in this church-wide movement involves a variety of creation care ministries, like composting, gardening, and feeding!
Learning Labs & Facilities
Sawyer Greenhouse is an outdoor teaching space with raised beds, perimeter beds, and benches. Farm guests and campers can take a break from the sun to sit under a shade cloth while discussing experiences in nature and in the garden, or learn how to identify wild plants and their uses. This space can be used for a variety of discussion or activity-based programs that link our spirituality to God’s creation.
Sawyer Gardens includes five raised beds in the Sawyer Greenhouse, in addition to the 100’ x 50’ field plot where a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow for guests and campers to explore and appreciate. Here, we begin to understand our responsibility for land care and preserving God’s earth.
The Garden Kitchen provides an introduction of farm-to-table methods in our teaching kitchen, where kids learn safe knife cutting skills, chopping up different veggies, and making easy recipes using mostly ingredients from the farm. For the more mature guests, we try more unique recipes like making herb butter, or beet salad. Here, the smells and flavors of the farm can really be enjoyed in a community of people connected to the land.
A Little History
Our teaching gardens are named after John Sawyer (1925-2015), who was a farmer, philanthropist, community leader, Princeton alum, and a founder of the Cincinnati Bengals. During WWII, John was a B-17 pilot. Immediately after discharge, he started his education at Princeton University and graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s in economics. His love of farming and flying led him to his aunt’s farm in London, OH, where he also became manager of the Procter Family Farm. John started the J. Sawyer Company, a multifaceted agriculture and real estate company. He pioneered aerial farming applications and was later inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame. Other legacies include being part of the leadership team that built the Cincinnati Red’s Riverfront Stadium, of which he was also part-owner of the team, and the Boomer Esiason Foundation to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. He gave generously to many organizations and charities including Children’s Hospital, Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, and many more other charities.
From the late-1800’s, until the 50’s, the Procter family farmed over 3,000 acres of land with cattle, soy, and corn. When the dioceses was gifted a portion of the land in the mid-50’s, the tradition of farming continued. Therefore, to the center, it has always been farmland. In 2012, the Procter Board decided to carry on the farming tradition, while also increasing awareness to sustainable agriculture by implementing a six-acre, organically grown vegetable farm.
Procter Center Farm
The farm includes hens, chickens, and hogs, has a large greenhouse, 12 raised beds, four large field plots, and a high tunnel. The farm uses only organic or natural processes to focus on soil and animal health, which results in more nutrient dense and healthier food for customers. The Procter Center Farm sells its products at the London Farm Fresh Market and at the Grove City Chamber Farms Market. Guests of Procter may also enjoy farm-to-table items during mealtimes and are welcome to purchase from the farm seven-days a week. Locals also sign up to be members of our annual Community Supported Agriculture share, which is a weekly box of seasonal specialties, vegetables, eggs, and meats.